|October 11, 2011||ERIK WALDEN||no comments|
|September 06, 2011||LEAVING THEIR MARK, WHEN THEY WERE TROJANS||no comments|
|July 06, 2011||OCONEE HIGH SCHOOL GRAND REUNION 2011||no comments|
|July 05, 2011||COLONEL BILLY G. EDENFIELD, USAF||no comments|
|May 12, 2011||MELISSA GRAVES WALKER||no comments|
|April 01, 2011||LAURA DARLEY||no comments|
|March 26, 2011||LEONARD BURKE||no comments|
|February 13, 2011||SHERRARD BRANTLEY||no comments|
|January 05, 2011||OUT OF NOWHERE WALDEN IMPRESSES||no comments|
|January 04, 2011||ERIK WALDEN||no comments|
By Tyler Dunne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Green Bay - This was a business trip. Erik Walden couldn't make the two-hour drive south to his hometown of Dublin, Ga. So with the Green Bay Packers playing in Atlanta, 50 friends and family members came to him.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play in front of your family on prime time," the outside linebacker said.
Green Bay knocked off the host Atlanta Falcons, 25-14, on Sunday with Walden drilling quarterback Matt Ryan multiple times. For him, his best game this season. This trip home was another cold reminder of what drives Walden, what made him.
The life-changing memories returned. His dad dying of a stroke when he was 10. His cousin stabbed to death in drunken fury when he was 12. His grandmother passing away. Three tragedies - back to back to back - sent tremors through Walden's childhood.
On spot, he forced himself to grow up.
"It kind of made me the man I am now," Walden said. "I didn't have no choice, really, but to adapt. It allowed me to mature earlier than I was supposed to."
Wrestling with the delicate concepts of life and death, as a kid, Walden forged ahead. And cut four times in his first three NFL seasons, as an adult, he sees the net result. He won't go down without a fight. Truth is, Walden is still fighting for his NFL life. This one-year, $600,000 contract with the Packers will dry up. He knows this.
Pressure, naturally, is mounting. Walden has one sack through five games. Teammate Frank Zombo is back from a broken scapula.
But Walden doesn't ask why, he doesn't look in his rearview mirror at the outside linebackers gunning for his starting job. Instead, he takes a look at the tattoo on his left arm. The initials of his late father (Gerald), cousin (Wesley) and grandmother (Elizabeth) are inked on a cross.
More than any amount of hours in the gym or the weight room, overcoming their deaths is how he got here.
"I really do believe that probably played the biggest role in what he has become," said his mother, Shirley Taylor. "I really do believe that. It's made him tough. I believe that enabled him to go through a lot of what he's been going through. All these ups and downs."
The day his dad died, Walden rushed to his mother's bedroom, crawled into bed and cried. And that was it. His demeanor at the funeral was different, strange.
This was shock, composure or some blend of the two. Mom had no clue what Erik was thinking. For whatever reason, her son refused to sit down. Family and friends all took their seat. The ceremony commenced. And Walden remained at the head of his dad's casket.
Motionless - without a tear in his eye - he stared off toward the crowd.
"I said, 'Erik, do you want to sit down?' " his mother recalled. "He said, 'no.' The wake lasts for an hour and a half. He just stood there saying nothing."
Walden wasn't sure how to feel, what to think. He was too young to be depressed, yet still old enough to understand the magnitude of this. And two years later, he lost his older cousin, Wesley. As Walden remembers, one brother urinated on the other's couch.
They argued. A physical fight ensued. And Wesley's brother stabbed him in the back. This hurt just as much as losing his dad. Erik looked up to Wesley.
"He was one of my only cousins I had a really good relationship with," Walden said. "That hit home."
Shirley took her son to church more, telling Erik that everybody dies. Wesley just left them early. Religion helped.
In school, Walden's grades dipped a bit but nothing extreme. No outbursts, no unleashed rage of any sort, no more crying spells. Walden told himself there were kids all over the world his age far worse off. Starving kids, dying kids. He needed to be strong for his mother.
"It was a down stage for a minute," said Walden's brother Garrick Wells, who's 13 years older. "He never talked about quitting anything. He never got into a state of depression. It wasn't anything like that. It was just like, 'This isn't real.' "
So he turned to sports. As Walden grew older, Garrick told him that any moment he took off was a lost opportunity. "Somebody else is always working," he'd say. So Walden played every sport possible.
"He never had a night of rest," Wells said. "Never. That helped out a lot."
And in time, he accepted tragedy. As a high school senior in 2002, Walden had 19 sacks in leading Dublin High to the state title game. He went onto Middle Tennessee State and set the school record for sacks (22½). A small-town kid suddenly had a chance. In 2008, Walden became the first Middle Tennessee player drafted in five years.
And the nomadic life of a special teams player began. Walden was cut by the Dallas Cowboys (Aug. 30, 2008), the Kansas City Chiefs (Nov. 18, 2008) and the Miami Dolphins twice (Sept. 4 and Sept. 28 of last season).
After the fourth cut, Walden didn't bother. The Dolphins let him go and he didn't even call his mom with the news.
"I called him a couple days later and asked, 'By the way, are you a Miami Dolphin?' " she said. "He said, 'Oh, yeah, Mama, I got some bad news. Miami let me go.' I said. 'Huh!? Are you for real?' "
Mom tempered her reaction. She could tell by his voice that Erik - unflappable Erik - was hurting. So she stopped herself and said everything would be OK. The first three years of Walden's NFL career were hell. He considered leaving football altogether.
"You start questioning yourself - is this football stuff really for me?" Walden said. "Should I find something else to do?"
He was that 10-year-old at the casket again. No emotion. Only that sensation of self-reliance returning.
A month later, the Packers picked him up. You know the rest.
In the season finale, Walden's three sacks of Chicago's Jay Cutler propelled Green Bay to the playoffs. To him, the game felt like slow motion. Everything was quiet, calm. "Nothing can stop you when you're feeling like that," Walden said.
A year later, he's starting. Walden remains raw, unpolished in areas. He admits his play has been "up and down." Still, coaches repeat that his technique has improved drastically. With 18 tackles, he's been solid against the run. Above all, Walden plays with violence.
Multiple times during training camp, his play caused outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene to burst out of a cannon onto the field.
"His physicality, I think, is second to none," Greene said. "When he wants to play physical, it's hard to block him. He's constantly working on his technique and fundamentals. I think Erik Walden can play in this NFL as long as he wants to play."
Emotionally, Walden moved on from the deaths of his father, cousin and grandmother. The other cousin who stabbed Wesley did time in jail. Walden doesn't harbor resentment, saying, "He can do him and I'll do me." He's focused on remaining a starter on a Super Bowl champion, on proving himself.
If Dad was around, he'd be proud, Wells said. But pausing for a moment, he wonders if Walden would still be in NFL.
Certain events make people who they are.
"Would he have been pushed too hard he wouldn't make it?" Wells said. "Would you be pushed less? You really don't have an answer for that."
LEAVING THEIR MARK
When They Were Trojans
They came down the street and across the miles. They had been there before and left their marks. On this past Saturday morning, they came to mark "the sacred ground, the holy ground," the place where they attended Oconee High School and learned the life lessons of love, faith, and service to others. They came to remember the time when they were Trojans.
Former students, faculty members, and friends of Oconee High School gathered together for the dedication of a historical marker on the site of the former school which stood at the intersection of Vine and Oconee Streets from 1952 to 1970. When Dublin city councilman Jerry Davis, a graduate of Oconee High School, returned home to Dublin, he set out on a mission to mark the location of the school, the largest part of which had been torn down decades before.
After an application to the state of Georgia was rejected on the grounds that the school was not significant as a historical place on a statewide basis, an undeterred Davis turned to his friends and fellow alumni to erect a marker which would forever signify the location of the place which fellow student, the Rev. Richard Sheffield, declared as "holy."
After a welcome by Barbara Watkins James, '62, the Rev. Sheffield, Chairman of the Dublin City Board of Education, prayed, "Let love touch our hearts with love and charity." The 1966 graduate saw himself and others as they gathered in front of the old school as children trying to understand and learn. He asked that every time a child and its mother passed by, the child would ask, "What is Oconee High School"? - to which the mother would respond that it was a place of the heritage of education. Chairman Sheffield sees Dublin High School as an extension of Oconee High and as a place where even more focus should be made by the community, and especially parents, on education, so that the schools can be a place where every child can learn.
Davis, the alumni association's 2nd vice president, thanked those present and all who contributed to the effort, the alumni, the city, and the Laurens County Historical Society. The councilman fondly remembered the days when the school was the hub of the community and community activities and saluted the school's alumni association for continuing to be a beacon of light when the community has fallen into a state of disrepair and for continuing to represent a spirit of excellence. Davis, Class of '69, spoke of the students and faculty with pride and hopes that the marker will inspire others to emulate the achievements of Oconee alumni and continue to make a difference on the local, state and national stages.
Dublin Mayor Pro Tem, Julie Drigger, saluted those present as trailblazers and encouraged the graduates to remember and pass down their heritage by saying, "No one can take that away from you. Never forget where you come from and you will always know where you are going."
School board member, Laura Travick, challenged the gathering, "If we don't leave a mark, no one who passes this way will know these holy grounds and where many got their start in education." Mrs. Travick concluded, "They will know what this ground meant to the people to the people of Dublin."
Assistant Superintendent Elgin Dixon sees the marker as telling the story about those who have come before them and paved the way.
Charles Manning, principal of Oconee High School from 1959 to 1970, praised the strong alumni association and his former students, "Statewide, we were small, but we always gave our best in everything we did. Mr. Manning urged his students to continue their loyalty to Oconee. He counseled his former students to hold to the truth of being a Trojan. As he looked into the sun beyond the gymnasium, which still stands, Manning can still see the football games, with players like Richard Sheffield. "Oconee has always been the best," principal Manning concluded.
Oconee High School Alumni National Alumni Chairman Darlene Blocker, '70, invited representatives of each class to come forward to cut the cover of the marker in the style of cutting the net after a championship basketball game. One by one they came forward, from those who attended in the early days until those who left Oconee to attend Dublin High, and began to cut away and unveil the marker.
Dr. Jerome V. Pearson, a successful Rome, Georgia physician, Class of '71, finished the operation to unveil the southern side of the marker which features the words of Seaman Lonnie Woodum, Class of 1954. Woodum, the author of the school's alma mater, tragically lost his life in a naval accident just months after his graduation. The northern side of the marker outlines a brief history of the origin and life at Oconee High School and the days when the Trojans represented a spirit of excellence in education, sports and community service, a spirit which still lives today.
A LIVING AND LASTING LEGACY
Everywhere you looked last Saturday evening in the banquet room of the Dubose Porter Center, you saw legacies. There were legacies finished. And, there were legacies still in progress. Some legacies had yet to be started. In just eighteen years, the teachers of Oconee High School planted the seeds which grew into legacies of faith, hope, dedication and love of community and country. Barbara Sanders Thomas, the keynote speaker for the evening, spoke of where her desires to leave a legacy began and challenged her fellow alumni to do just that - to think back and to always think forward for the future of the world we all leave behind.
The Oconee High School National Alumni Association was organized by former students and faculty to preserve the OHS legacy of excellence, spirit, and pride through sponsorship of events and reunions; promoting education through scholarships and training; supporting the welfare of people and communities; providing a presence and voice when needed; and maintaining visibility in the city of Dublin at large. The theme of this year's reunion is "Building on the Trojan Legacy While Embracing Current and Future Challenges."
Presiding over the evening festivities with comical humor and charming wit, was Robert L. Brown, Jr., '69, a noted Atlanta architect and business leader. James Fambrough,'65, welcomed more than two hundred and fifty alumni, their guests and friends. Minister Cheryl May-Holmes, '66 gave an inspirational invocation. Another member of the Class of '66, Rosalyn Clark Gray, spoke of the occasion of the evening.
Introducing the keynote speaker for the evening was Ann Sanders Stephens, '60, who introduced her sister, Barbara Sanders Thomas. Mrs. Thomas, a 25-year veteran of CBS Radio and the company's first African-American female vice-president, challenged the alumni to keep the name of Oconee alive and to continue the legacy of building the Trojan theme. She thanked Cheryl May-Holmes and others for helping her to reconnect to the alumni organization.
"We are all warriors, we have been trained by the best, the teachers and staff of Oconee. They taught us to never give up even if we had to disguise our strength, as the Greek warriors did, to accomplish our goal," Thomas said as she spoke of the legacy passed to her while she was a student at Oconee. Her role models at Oconee were principal Charles Manning and teachers, Nellie Coleman and Marine Bacote. "They made me believe I could do anything I wanted to do," she fondly recalled. After serving with CBS in its finance department, Thomas took a new life course. "I took an early retirement and decided that what I wanted to do with my life was to go out and help nonprofit corporations," she proclaims. As for the future, Barbara proclaimed, "There's a lot of work ahead of me, a lot of work I want to do."
The theme of Thomas's speech was, "What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind when you die?" "Every life leaves a legacy. If you leave a legacy that is greater than you, and if you want to leave a legacy that will impact generation after generation, and if you live your life to leave something that will be great, all you need is wrapped up in three, profoundly simple yet inspiringly deep, thoughts: I fought the good fight. I finished the race. And, I kept the faith," Thomas asserted.
She called upon the legacy leavers and reminded them, "We are stewards of this world. We should leave this world better than we found it." In reminding those present of their legacy leavers, Thomas said, "We are the legacies of the teachers of Oconee High School. We are the fruits of their labor."
Although Barbara Thomas has enjoyed much success in her business career, she told all, "I don't want to be a legend, I want to live to leave a legacy." In comparing a legacy to a reputation, the Executive Director of the National MBA Foundation said, "A reputation is made in a moment. A legacy is built in a lifetime."
Thomas outlined the steps of determining your legacy; Understand your legacy. Chose your legacy. Focus on your legacy. Establish a life sentence. Live your legacy.
As a child Barbara wanted to be a pastor. Later she wanted to be a great communicator. Now she says, "I want to add value to leaders, leaders who will multiply value to others." She encouraged everyone to take time to learn as much as you can and to pass that knowledge onto your children and their children. "We are the baton passers who pass that information on." Mrs. Thomas concluded.
Robert L. Mason, Jr., '67, recognized the former Miss Oconees in attendance. President Darlene Blocker, '70 and 2nd vice-president Jerry Davis, '69, made special presentations to those in attendance, including John W. Tillman, who traveled the longest distance, all the way from Texas. The classes of 1966 and 1968 tied for the most members in attendance.
A special recognition was given to principal Charles W. Manning. Manning, who in 1959 succeeded Lucius D, Bacote, as the second and only other principal of Oconee High School, which opened in 1952 and closed in 1970 when Dublin city schools were integrated.
Eclemus Ricks was presented an award for his most generous contribution to the Alumni Association's work. The Trojan Award, which epitomizes the spirit of Oconee High School was awarded to Dublin city councilman, Jerry Davis, who tirelessly worked to put on the event and placement of the historical marker. President Blocker gave the President's Award to Jerry Chapman for his work on behalf of the Alumni Association.
Awards were presented to those who contributed to the placement of a historical marker on the site of the school. The ceremony took placed earlier in the day as scheduled. Unfortunately, the carrier lost the sign, which will be formally dedicated at a later date.
President Blocker thanked all of those who participated in putting the 2011 reunion together. The evening's ceremonies ended with a rousing rendition of Oconee's Alma Mater led by Odis Brower, '63. The school song was written by the late Lonnie Gene Woodum, USN, who lost his life aboard the U.S.S. Bennington in the service of our country in 1954.
WALKER, Melissa MELISSA GRAVES WALKER 1941-2011 Melissa Graves Walker --- author, college professor and activist for civil rights, peace, and environmental issues --- died May 4th at Hospice Atlanta of breast cancer. Diagnosed and first treated in 1997, Walker's cancer was dormant until it returned in early 2008. Born and raised in Dublin, Ga., Walker completed both her undergraduate and doctoral degrees in English literature at Emory University. She taught first at the University of New Orleans and then at Mercer University in Atlanta, where she served as chair of the English department. In 1990 she became a Fellow in the Institute of Women's Studies at Emory. In 1984 Walker wrote Writing Research Papers: A Norton Guide. This popular textbook subsequently came out in four editions, the most recent in 1997. In 1991 Yale University Press published her book Down from the Mountaintop: Black Women's Novels in the Wake of the Civil Rights Movement. While teaching, writing, and raising a family, Walker became an activist for civil rights, peace, and environmental issues. She was an outspoken advocate for wilderness and served for ten years on the national board of Wilderness Watch as well as president of the Georgia chapter. She also served on the executive council of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE), and was vice chair of the Southern Appalachian Council of the Wilderness Society. In 1994, Norton published her edited collection of essays by nature and science writers entitled Reading the Environment. Shortly after turning fifty, Walker embarked on a solitary quest to learn about America's wilderness areas. She made two extended trips to the American west, camping in Arizona's sky islands, the northern Rockies, the red rock canyons of southern Utah, the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest, and finally on the deck of a ferry bound for Alaska. Each of these two trips lasted about three months, and during the intervening winter she camped in and around the Everglades. Her account of these travels, Living on Wilderness Time: 200 Days Alone in America's Wild Places , was published by the University of Virginia Press and won the Georgia Writers' Association award for Best Memoir of the Year in 2002. Beginning with her first visit to Alaska via ferry, Walker made a total of ten trips to Alaska. She recalled that since her childhood she had always wanted to go "as far north as I could go." She traveled alone to the Alaskan Arctic to learn about Eskimo culture. Another trip took her to the Canadian Arctic to actually see polar bears in the wild, as well as learn about the challenges they face as the world's climate changes. Walker's first book for children, A Place for Delta , tells the story of an orphaned polar bear cub. Set in both the Alaskan Arctic and the Appalachian mountains of North Georgia, the book is illustrated by her son Richard Walker. Published in the spring of last year, it won the International Book Award for Best Children's Fiction of 2010. Melissa Walker is survived by her husband Dr. Jerome Walker, her son Richard Walker, and her daughter Laura Walker. Grandsons Joseph and Max Walker live in Decatur, while grandson Alan Sanchez lives in Phoenix. There will be a memorial service at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 26th at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, 1911 Cliff Valley Way, Atlanta, Ga., 30329. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in Dr. Melissa Walker's name to Wilderness Watch, PO Box 9175, Missoula, Montana, 59807.
You have never seen Laura Darley's picture on the front page of the Courier Herald. People like her rarely wind up on the front page of any newspaper. That doesn't mean that you won't recognize her if you see her. Many of you have eaten lunch with her. You may have seen her in the lunchroom at Northwest Laurens Elementary. But, if you don't know who Laura Darley is, just go over to Chick-fi-La for lunch and you'll find her patrolling the place, policing up the fallen crumbs and abandoned trays, and keeping the whole place tidy and neat, just like your grandmother would.
Laura Darley has lived in Laurens County for almost all of her eighty-five years. She grew up on a farm near Rockledge. Life was tough for Laura's parents, Ashley and Tiny Stewart, during the Great Depression. After she graduated from Wilkes High School, Laura married Johnnie Darley. They had seven children, five boys and two girls. Johnnie died way too young in 1970.
During her four decades of widowhood, Laura Darley kept on working. She worked in and outside of her home. Despite the fact that she had seven of her own children, Miss Laura took in at least five foster children, including a six-month-old baby. When she was looking after her own children, Mrs. Darley worked for almost two decades in the lunchroom at Northwest Laurens Elementary.
After leaving the school, Laura took a job at Quincy's Restaurant in Dublin. She worked along with her son Doyce, who was the one who cooked those fabulous, triple-buttered yeast rolls that put a smile on our faces and inches on our waist lines. "When I worked there, my family would always ask me to bring them some home when I got off work," Mrs. Darley, who only worked at Quincy's for a short time, fondly remembered.
Then in the middle of April in 1999, Laura's life took a change for the better. She took a job at Chick-fi-la. "I went over and applied for a job and Mr. David Roberts hired me," Laura recalled.
Roberts had a plan for Laura. "When she came in, I thought how wonderful it would be to have her as a greeter for a while, to be a grandmother to everyone," the manager recalled. She wouldn't work in the kitchen or in the drive through a window or even the front counter.
Laura's shift starts at lunch and lasts only three hours. It is her job to keep the place neat and tidy. She really doesn't mind those who leave their tables and booths in a mess. After all, it's her job to make the eating areas so clean that you wouldn't know anyone had eaten there in a while. One customer, who requested anonymity, keeps an eye on his drink, careful to move it every 20 seconds or so, to make sure Mrs. Laura doesn't come by and pluck it up. And, she does that six days a week. She reserves the seventh day for the Lord and her family.
David Roberts once thought that when she first came to work that Laura would work for only a short time. "Now, she's been here for about 12 years, and " She has only missed a handful of days and her work ethic is unmatched," Roberts continued. On some days, Mrs. Laura has to work up to the strength to get over the normal aches and pains of someone her age just to make it in to work. "She is always in a good mood. She has been a blessing to us," Roberts observed of his longest serving employee.
Laura Darley will celebrate her 85th birthday on Thursday, March 31. Unless her boss gives her the day off, Laura will be working the lunch shift, just as she has for the last dozen years.
Laura Darley has no plans to quit working. "I love the people who come here," she says. "And, I will keep working as long as I can," she continued.
So, if you want to wish her a happy birthday, stop by at lunch and there you'll find Miss Laura, doing what she does best, being a grandmother who picks up your crumbs and your trash and never fusses at you.
PEOPLE LIKE US
America and Erin Go Bragh
Leonard Burke is used to wearing green. After all, his parents were Irish. And, he just celebrated his 93rd St. Patrick's Day. Although Leonard may look green on the outside - he wore the olive drab uniform of his country for six years too- on the inside, Leonard Burke bleeds red, white, and blue. So, at this Saturday's St. Patrick's Parade, look for this passionately patriotic veteran, one of the many grand marshals we salute for their service to our nation.
Leonard Burke was born to Joseph Patrick Burke and Sarah Jane Eckert Burke in Pennsylvania on the tenth day of the tenth month of 1918. Six weeks after his birth, Joe Burke began making preparations to come home from World War I. Leonard Burke grew up in the Great Depression on the back streets of a West Philadelphia neighborhood, where most of the residents were Irish or Italian. Leonard never finished high school, opting to start working instead. He worked at Dewey's Restaurant on 13th and Market streets for $18.00 a week, keeping $5.00 for himself, and giving the rest to his mother as long as he was living at home.
When the war with Japan broke out, Leonard left his managerial job at Dewey's and took a job as a ball bearing grinder at SFK Ball and Bearing Plant, where he made bearings for ships, tanks, and trucks. When called into the service in 1943, Leonard, at the age of twenty-five with a wife and infant daughter at home, enlisted in the Army. Naturally he was assigned to an engineering unit. After training for many months in the states, Burke and his unit arrived in Liverpool, England in mid-May of 1944, just weeks before D-day.
Leonard was assigned to the 300th Combat Engineers. For eighteen months, Leonard built roads, mine fields, bridges, fortifications, and anything else the Army needed to build or blow up as it slowly moved across France and Belgum into Germany. During the bitterly cold winter of 1944-45, Burke's unit saw service just north of the Battle of the Bulge. One of the highlights of his service was the day Leonard literally bumped into Gen. George S. Patton. When Burke saw whom he had bumped into, he apologized. The immortal general excused the momentary brush. Leonard never can get out his mind the sight of piles of bones in the killing ovens of the concentration camps he saw near the end of the war. During his tour in Europe, Burke was awarded five bronze stars, a meritorious unit award, and various other awards. Seeing it as a jinx, Burke turned down a Purple Heart instead telling his general to give it to the guy in the bed because he was in worse shape.
After the war was over, Burke was one the lucky ones when he got old job back. But, after six months, Leonard decided to join the Army Air Corps to ensure a steady income for his family. Among Leonard's highly prized memorabilia of his years in the service is a certificate issued to him by Col. John R. Kilgore. Burke participated in Operation Sandstone at the Eniwetok Atomic Energy Proving Grounds on the Marshall Islands. The project was a three-detonation series of atomic bombs in 1948 to test the effects of nuclear fall out on the atmosphere and naval ships and aircraft.
After the war, Burke married the love of his life, his wife Thelma, and moved to Florida. Eventually, Leonard and Thelma moved to Moultrie, Georgia, where he lived and worked until he recently retired. Yes, Leonard worked up until the age of ninety. Burke began working at Lear-Signer in Moultrie in 1951 and kept on working full time in the aviation industry. At the age of seventy-three, when most people his age have already retired, Leonard took a new job at Maule Air, Inc. He would work there for almost 17 years. At the age of 89, Leonard was honored for his work as a quality control inspector as the Older Worker of the Year in Southwest Georgia.
Today, Burke lives with his step daughter Elaine Goolsby on Walke Dairy Road. His memories of his life in World War II are still vivid in his mind. He treasures the friendships he made and the good he was able to do on behalf of his country. I imagine, if the U.S. Army called and needed his help, Leonard Burke would put his green uniform back on, stand at attention, and salute the flag of the country he so dearly loves.
The Dublin Civitan Club invites all veterans of military service to serve as grand marshals of this year's parade. If you are a veteran and would like to walk or ride in the parade report to the head of the parade column at S. Jefferson Street and Martin Luther King Dr., this Saturday morning between 08:30 to 09:30 hours. If you can't make it, the Civitan Club thanks you for your service to our country. To those who come to watch the parade, bring your flag to wave as we honor those who risked their lives to give us the freedoms we enjoy today. For further information, please call me at 478-279-2514.
ATHENS, Ga. – Sherrard Brantley says his most prized possession is a Class AA state championship ring, earned fewer than two years ago.
Brantley’s Dublin (Ga.) High School team went 31-1 and won its final 23 games in 2009. He averaged 15.1 points per game for the Irish, but from a recruiting standpoint, the 6-foot-2 Brantley tended to get lost in the shuffle.
“I had a real good team,” Brantley said, “so I didn’t have to put a whole lot of attempts up.”
Bethune-Cookman came calling at the time. So did Coastal Carolina. But with academics a concern (he didn’t qualify until the summer after his senior year), Brantley wound up at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Fla.
It’s not ideal to take the junior-college route, but in Brantley’s case, one year of JUCO basketball proved a blessing disguise.
“It still kind of surprises me even now when I think about it,” he said.
Brantley arrived in Florida as basically an unknown prospect and exited a year later with offers from a handful of major-college programs.
He actually averaged fewer points, posting 13.7 per game for a team that won 30 games to claim its conference and reach the quarterfinals of the national finals. But he shot 263 times from 3-point range during the season. Of those attempts, 113 percent went in (43 percent), helping Brantley be named Freshman of the Year in his school’s conference.
“I was just thinking of getting more exposure, trying to get my name out a little more,” Brantley said. “Going from (high school) to a high-major junior college, the game is just a little different. I shot a lot more from the 3-point line in junior college.”
Schools began noticing, especially ones that needed more perimeter shooters.
UGA assistant Philip Pearson scouted Brantley, and the Bulldogs began recruiting him in January of that season.
“He can shoot the ball – period,” UGA coach Mark Fox said. “We needed a guy who could shoot the basketball, and Sherrard can do that, and he can do that very well.”
Brantley picked in-state Georgia over LSU and knew he would be exiting junior college after only one season, since he had qualified academically.
“Playing close to home was a reason,” Brantley said, “and Coach Fox painted a good picture for me, not just things on the court, but off the court after I graduate.”
Since his arrival, Brantley has played in 22 of Georgia’s 23 games as a sophomore this season. At nearly 14 minutes per game, he is seventh on the Bulldogs in playing time, and his role has long been defined.
On a team generally lacking punch from 3-point range, Brantley is the specialist. Of his 79 shot attempts this season, 63 have been from 3-point range. He has made 21 (33.3 percent). Only Dustin Ware (37) and Gerald Robinson (23) have made more 3-pointers for UGA this season, and each plays more than 30 minutes per game.
Fox says Brantley has the green-light to shoot whenever it suits him.
“He’s a great shooter,” Fox said. “And he’s much more comfortable in all phases of the game. He’s ten times a better defender than he was two months ago. He’s a better ball handler, and he’s really played pretty well. I think he’s comfortable in his role right now.”
“He’s helping us out a lot this year,” UGA forward Travis Leslie said. “When people come in and knock down big 3s, it brings a lot of energy and helps us out a lot.”